Patrick Kennedy: I was hooked on cocaine, painkillers and booze, therefore no one is allowed to smoke pot

Tony Papa says: "A very interesting story about how a liberal U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy who has a drug addiction problem suddenly becomes an outspoken opponent of the legalization of marijuana."

“It’s almost ‘Reefer Madness’-type stuff about marijuana he’s saying,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance. “There’s something remarkable about Patrick Kennedy deciding to go after users of a drug that is by almost all accounts less dangerous than the drugs he struggled with. Where Patrick Kennedy could have made a really important contribution is by saying that we need a responsible public health model for dealing with legal marijuana.”

SF Gate reports that Kennedy wants to send pot smokers to education camps:

Oxycontin addict, alcoholic, and former Rhode Island rep. Patrick Kennedy has come out with a startling, new plan to oppose pot legalization in the United States: round up potheads and re-educate them in camps.

Kennedy’s communist reeducation scheme is being billed as Project SAM, standing for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and it launched today in Denver, CO. Project SAM’s stated goals are to create laws that would “funnel marijuana users to interventions or treatment” and deny medical marijuana to cancer and AIDS patients in favor of something that pharmaceutical corporations can profit from.

Pot opponents regroup following Wash., Colo. votes


  1. “Dear Ethan,

            Responsible public health models don’t get headlines and/or votes.

    Hugs and Kisses,

    Patrick Kennedy”

  2. These type of scare tactics are specifically and directly the cause for kids not paying any attention to warnings about other heavier, more dangerous, drugs.
    It’s also disingenuous for a Kennedy to seek continued prohibition on pot, while ignoring that the legal drug alcohol has been most damaging to his own kin, amongst many others. It would have been healthier for him to do a PSA on the risks of using any substances when there is a family history of addiction.

    1. If you ask me, since he was an illegal drug user, he’s not even qualified to talk about the topic. Have people who’ve conducted actual studies talk about it, not a politician who abused it.

      1.  If you ask me, since he was an illegal drug user, he’s not even qualified to talk about the topic.

        That has nothing to do with him being an idiot about this.

        1. That has nothing to do with him being an idiot about this.

          He’s a former oxycontin addict?  It might…

      2. If you look at legal pharmaceuticals, the risks are often greater. Watch any drug ad on TV, it’s like 15 minutes of side effects, some of those include creating the very problem that they are supposed to remedy, and then reaching all the way to death. If you want to put warnings on pot, do it. But do it the same way drug companies do, with common side effects and then rare or extremely rare ones. Besides, it’s doubtful that pot would be legal for anyone under 18 anyway.

        1. I missed this before: and deny medical marijuana to cancer and AIDS patients in favor of something that pharmaceutical corporations can profit from.

          Now it makes perfect sense; follow the money trail. Anyone can grow pot, bigpharma can’t patent it.

          1. Big pharma can certainly patent the transgenic strains they create. If they can patent transgenic corn, soy and wheat, why not cannabis?

            The silver lining is that transgenic cannabis is unlikely to contaminate other growers’ crops, since it’s grown mostly surreptitiously in the US.

      3. “If you ask me, since he was an illegal drug user, he’s not even qualified to talk about the topic”

        You’re not successfully using his logic against him.


        People who have struggled with and ultimately overcome substance abuse problems are THE EXACT people who should be advising on drug policy reform.

        By your logic, astronauts should not talk about space, lawyers should not teach law.

        1. Just like priests have struggled with and overcome sexual urges, so they should be the ones telling us how to live our sex lives, right?

    2. the legal drug alcohol has been most damaging to his own kin

      The Kennedys made their fortune as liquor importers.

          1. More like not-so-secretly selling Marinol.

            (Check out the picture of the dude who is seriously pumped about making himself some munchies on the front page…this is truth in advertising right here.)

          2. I didn’t see any picture of a dude, but christonacracker, you don’t have to worry about weight killing you, Marinol will.

          3. Joe Kennedy also did really well by not trusting the market before the 1929 crash, getting out and keeping his money in cash, and buying up lots of stuff cheap after the crash.

  3. Heck, why stop at pot?  Why not ban coffee too?  Especially since the addiction potential for caffeine is greater than for cannabis.

    1. Coffee’s a much bigger gateway drug, too. Look how many users of all drugs started with coffee! And how many murderers can be shown to have consumed it!

      1. Only if you include amphetamines. The Kennedy family have pretty much proven to be the poster children for drug and alcohol abuse.

        1. Aww, c’mon, amphetamines were OTC medication in the 60’s.  “Trucker speed” used to mean Dexedrine, not caffeine. Heinlein’s “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” — a children’s novel — had a spacesuit with a Dexedrine dispenser built in.

        1. Unlike his 1992/1996 running mate, Al knew enough to inhale, and did so frequently, but that just made him a frequent flyer, not an addict.  No idea if he also smoked tobacco or was addicted to caffeine.

  4. When I had my wisdom teeth out, I was prescribed an opioid-based painkiller. I took it for less than a week, and at somewhat less that the prescribed maximum. On the last day, I was feeling much better, so I stopped. That evening, my entire body felt terrible, with an overall feeling of malaise that’s hard to describe, except to say that I really wanted to curl up in a ball and die. I couldn’t even sleep, as my legs were all restless and my skin felt… wrong. Then I took one of the remaining pills. In about fifteen minutes, I felt fine. No rush or anything — I just felt human again.

    Oh. I thought.

    So, after that wore off, I took the pills back to the pharmacy, and suffered through with no long term ill effects. But I can now see how easy long-term addiction would be for someone someone who had a higher dosage for longer, or who might be more sensitive to the effects, or who was just in a worse place in life than I was. In fact, I searched the web a bit and found all manner of horrible, desperate stories from the fallout of this legal prescription medication.

    It’s my understanding that marijuana is effective in helping people with pain, without this kind of physical addiction. For that reason, I’m very strongly in favor of pursuing research into replacing routine use of opioid-based painkillers with some marijuana-derived solution. (Save the narcotics for very serious pain, administered under controlled conditions.)

    That seems like the only logical reaction. But then, I’m not running for office.

    1. You make a very good point.  I’ve known people addicted to Oxycontin, etc. and they might as well be shooting heroin (it’s all opiates) seeing how difficult it is to get off them.

      Marijuana doesn’t have those physical addictive effects, psychologically addictive, yes but so do Twinkies.

      As others have pointed out, follow the money.  Big pharma doesn’t make money when a cancer patient grows their own weed so they’re going to push (as in push congress) for only stuff they produce to be legal.

      1. Marijuana does produce physically addictive symptoms in some users. Approximately 9% of regular users report physical withdrawal symptoms, and they’re certainly not on the same scale as the symptoms suffered by people addicted to opiates or say alcohol, but it is a myth that marijuana can’t be physically addictive.

        I don’t state this because I believe marijuana should remain illegal, quite the opposite. I state this because when easily disproved myths are used to promote marijuana legalisation, the arguments will fall apart very easily.

          1. I love how every time this debate comes up the nobody ever quips in with “citation please” for the person that inaccurately claims marijuana has no physically addictive symptoms.

            I know Rolling Stone isn’t going to appease anyone as a credible source on the matter, but this short article is concise and accurate:

            Number 5 covers addiction and cites the National Institute of Health.

            This article goes into a little more detail, and sums up the state of evidence pretty well; but once again isn’t a journal article.

            As for scientific studies, well you can google as well as I can so take your pick.

          2. Still not particularly impressed.  Okay, so how about this:  “Withdrawal symptoms are unlikely but if they do occur  they are very mild, especially in comparison to something as common as caffeine”.  How about that?

            But, no, I didn’t miss your point.  You seem to think that the rate of withdrawal symptoms is somehow RELEVANT.  It’s really not.  It doesn’t change the discussion in any way.

          3. Did I argue that they were severe? Did I argue that mild withdrawal symptoms were of great concern? Did I argue that marijuana produces more severe withdrawals than caffine? Your strawman arguments would certainly imply that you did indeed miss my point.

            I only pointed out that about 9% of (regular) users experience withdrawal symptoms because inevitably someone will chime in with “I smoked x amount for x years and when I stopped I didn’t get these symptoms, therefore marijuana isn’t addictive”.

            I will state clearly again: I fully support legalisation of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. I only contradict the argument that marijuana isn’t physically addictive because myths and falsehoods make poor arguments in the legalisation debate.

            The truth is a smaller fraction of people get addicted to marijuana than most drugs including many legal drugs, the symptoms they feel are usually less severe than most drugs including many legal ones. That a small percentage of regular users become dependent on marijuana and may suffer mild withdrawal symptoms is not a good reason for continued prohibition; it does however need to be acknowledged.

          4. I’m not sure that I’m 100% convinced by the citations you’ve provided, but thank you for following through.

            I asked for citations not as a flippant dismissal but because, as a frequent cannabis user for theraputic reasons, claims that go counter to received wisdom are worth investigating. As you were the one making the claim, the onus of proof does, to a certain degree, fall upon you. (On the other hand, as you state, we can both use Google, so don’t feel obligated to continue finding more links. It was enough to get started.) I think it’s reasonable to provide citations when challenged for taking a contrary position over widely-held beliefs if you believe in it, and I respect that you’ve taken the time to follow through. Simply the act of doing that has gotten me to look into this a bit more and challenge my assumptions. At the very least, I won’t be so quick to state “marijuana has no physically-addictive properties” without hesitating and qualifying it as a complicated situation.

            On the other hand, I think we’ve all seen all sorts of things said on the Internet, and no followup ever again once challenged to put some gold on top of all the shit they’ve been talking to prove it’s worth something.

          5. @boingboing-965a89aa841f0807220ff7c6678dd0e4:disqus Fair enough, I do encourage to look into it more if you’re interested, I think you’ll find that almost all credible sources will back up my claim.

            I guess I get frustrated as someone that has felt many of the physical withdrawal symptoms, especially as the science backs me up; yet the myth is still very persistant across general society.

        1. First, citation?

          Secondly, oh boy!  9%!  Combined with the fairly mild symptoms that I’m sure the vast majority of that 9% likely experience, color me not impressed.
          Consider how common and intense CAFFEINE withdrawal is. Considering that, I’d say that 9% figure is rather meaningless.  Especially since there’s no other information available to make a judgement on how harmful those withdrawal symptoms are, or how long they last.  9% experience, what?

          1. See the loose citations above. I’m not pointing to any one study because there are plenty to choose from.

            Secondly, thank you for missing my point entirely. I pointed out that only a small number of users get symptoms, I also pointed out that they’re mild and I concluded by saying that I support legalisation. 

            As far as symptoms go they vary, as do any withdrawal symptoms. Personally I’ve experienced irritability, a lot of difficulty sleeping and general nausea as well difficulty keeping food down over the first few days.

  5. You will find the majority of people anti-pot are people who have never tried it or for whatever reason, can’t use it. These are the most vocal opponents.

    1. Kind of the opposite of the most vocal opponents of homosexuality who often are “users” themselves.

  6. This is actually worse than the fundie freaks who oppose legalization on religious grounds.  Hey, Kennedy, just because you and so many members of your hideously overprivileged family are weak willed, addictive personality types doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of us who could use pot recreationally without ever having a problem.  Your personal failings are no justification for denying us our freedoms.

    1. overprivileged family are weak willed, addictive personality types

      You just described most corporatists, except you left out their megalomania.

    2. “fundie freaks who oppose legalization on religious grounds”

      Aside from the Mormons, these are a very small percentage  of the population, not even worth considering.

  7. Economy in tatters, a population that clearly wants legalization, and a relatively harmless, naturally occurring plant that provides food, fiber, and a friday night buzz… with an estimated economic potential of 9 billion dollars in tax revenues a year plus an estimated additional 2 billion saved on prosecution and incarceration of marijuana offenders… call me prejudiced, snobby, or a pot-head hippie but people who are against legalization are blind idiots.

      1. An acquaintance of mine is undergoing court-ordered drug/alcohol counseling, and they recently had a class on marijuana. She said that, in contrast to the alcohol material that is usually helpful recovery-oriented stuff, the marijuana module was all straight-up DEA propaganda, very anti-legalization and pro-pharma. Most people in the class just laughed at it.

  8. He’s taking his sobriety out on others. Might as well tell the populace to give up television and the ‘net… the idea won’t fly. Another Kennedy shithead. 

  9. Why call him “liberal” when he’s so obviously not?

    Dry-drunks and rabid born-agains (not unrelated) are the fucking worst.

  10. This is why it is important to elect candidates who practice critical thinking skills and know that one data point / observation / personal experience does not equal fact.

  11. This reminds me of women who have had safe, legal abortions and who now crusade against any other women having that right. Regret of one’s own behavior is not a reason to make such behavior illegal.

  12. This is the last gasp of an well-connected but insignificant backbench do-nothing ex-representative who’s looking to parlay 15 unproductive years in Congress into a lobbyist position.   Good luck, fucko!

  13. How big a “re-education camp” would you need if you rounded up all the pot smokers in the US? Assuming that you didn’t try to get everyone who’d ever tried it (probably north of 150 million people) and just concentrated on those who’d used it in the last year (around 35 million, according to the 2008 census), you’d still need a pretty big re-education camp. Using New York City (population: 22 million) as a guideline, we’re looking at about 450-500 square miles. (Better than I expected: I was thinking we might need to take over Montana or something).

    But obviously, we can’t expect those maryjane addicts to stay where we put them. As soon as they start jonesing for their fix of the devil weed, they’ll be up on out of there. We’re gonna need guards – about 7 million of them, just to maintain a 1 guard to 5 prisoners ratio, which I understand is a near minimum. And because these are re-education camps, I guess we’ll need some educators. Let’s go with a class size of 35, and throw in a round 1 million educators. Plus perhaps a couple of million support staff, for an even 10 million. All of those will need to be chosen, of course, from the 50% or so of the population that claims never to have touched the stuff.

    So it’s a big project, but it’s clearly got to be done. Let’s start rolling, er, I mean, rounding ’em up …

    1. I also don’t see how you could keep a bunch of pot smokers locked in a camp.  I’ve seen pot smokers fashion bongs out of found objects that would make McGyver proud.  Figuring out a crafty way to escape from a pot camp would be nothing for them.

      1. This tendency to McGyver among stoners is why I have always found legal bans on smoking paraphernalia completely baffling.

      2. More likely: they figure out a crafty way to bring weed in with them and then define the prison camp to be outside the fence. The lazy are often the best Gordian knot thinkers.

    2. So you want a re-education camp that can hold 35 million recreational marijuana users?  California has 35 million people – it’s just the right size!  And many of us are already here*, so that’d be really efficient!  Dude, let’s go to marijuana camp this summer!

      And re-education camp is what it would take, because unlike the addictive drugs that Kennedy used, where medical help to get you past withdrawal symptoms is helpful and sometimes critically necessary, or like marijuana self-medication for mental issues that could be treated better with pharmaceuticals, for occasional recreational users, medical rehab isn’t useful, we just like the stuff, which is a politically incorrect set of values that can only be cured by re-education.

      (*Ok, officially I’m not a recreational user, I’ve got a doctor’s recommendation to use it for RSI.  It does actually help a bit, though NSAIDs do a better job.)

      1. So you want a re-education camp that can hold 35 million recreational marijuana users?

        I’d rather go with Max Flatow’s plan for mandatory LSD-based re-education camps for everyone over 35.

  14. I don’t really understand how pharmaceutical companies can’t/won’t profit from legalization of marijuana? Just like I think there is a market for organic-free-range-llama-kissed buds I think there will be a market for synthetic or pill-form marijuana substitutes. Seems like everyone could profit from legalization. 

    1. If they process and produce drugs with cannabinoids, it can get FDA approval and be legal now, through prescription, without pot being legal in it’s raw form. But if people are getting relief from pot, without alterations, at reasonable prices, why would they want to pay top dollar for a patented version?

        1. I would imagine that pot brownies, cookies, candy, lozenges, etc. can be an alternative to inhaling smoke.

          1. Pot Brownies are dangerous!  It takes an hour after you eat one to get high, but often you get the munchies first, and there’s this plate of tasty tasty chocolatey brownies right there!  Of course you want another, even though if your judgement processes were running at full steam you’d remember that it’s really not a good idea, and you’d be much better off ordering pizza, or going to the kitchen to see what’s in the fridge.

          2. Not to mention widely available, affordably priced vaporizers. I have no vocal horse in this game, but I wonder why MMJ advocates haven’t made a point of educating the public about the safety benefits of vaporizers.

            I know quite a few weed users in the 20-35 yo range who scorn smoking (of anything) and carry portable vaporizers with them when they intend to vape away from home.

            While eating cannabis is a viable alternative to making it, those of us with experience know that titrating one’s dose can be difficult if guessing at the effects of the concentration of THC in an edible. As an infrequent user of cannabis, should I choose to ingest orally, I would have to go through a trial period of several days to determine a proper dose even if I were consuming an edible from a dispensary which labels its products with THC contents.

            For the uninitiated, such a process would not spring handily to mind. Smoking allows the user to titrate easily. Vaporizing allows for the same ease of dose control, minus the negative effects of smoking, but the barrier to entry is higher because of price.

            Still, the fact that the public automatically associates cannabis with smoking works against the interests of MMJ advocates and legalization supporters. I imagine that MMJ advocates have had their hands full simply elevating the debate to a larger platform, but I think that educating and proselytizing about vaporizing as a practical, relatively safe means of ingestion would have a positive impact on the legalization debate at large.

        2.  DisGuest has some good ideas, as well as using a vaporizer to create cannabis vapor. Not to mention that not all smoke is created equal and the science is still unclear as to whether cannabis smoke is particularly harmful to the lungs.

        3. Vaporizers are pretty awesome, if rather expensive.

          Also, I’m pretty sure that my living near downtown Phoenix — a really polluted city PLUS the extra bonus of desert dust and dirt *everywhere* — is far worse than the little bit of pot smoke I inhale every day. 

      1. If you are not capable of producing your own, or if you trust a brand name more than some local shop, you might be willing to pay more for a patented version. 

        1. I suppose that could be true. And there are probably people who only believe pharmaceutical prescriptions are legitimate. But I think most people would be looking to pay less, especially with the heavy financial burden already incurred for drug cocktails, radiation, chemo, surgery (and such) for diagnoses like cancer and AIDS. Personally, aside from the costs, I think I’d want to add the most natural option, if it is effective, to a treatment plan, instead of adding more fillers and chemicals into the mix.

      2. Here in California, we are paying top dollar for marijuana from the medical industry, but if it were simply legalized, marijuana is easy enough to grow that it would be at least as cheap as oregano, if not zucchini. 

        Out of curiosity, does anybody know if the FDA or its predecessors ever approved any cannabis medicines between the time it was created and the beginning of marijuana prohibition?

        1. I don’t know about your last question. I wish it was legal because although I’ve never grown any, I am really good with plants.

      1. Right, thanks to multibillionaire, corporatist, control-freak Bloomberg.  What an embarrassment to NYC he is.

      1. If you let people drink sodas pretty soon they’ll be moving on to the harder stuff.  Pop Rocks, Jawbreakers, even eventually the dreaded Pixie Stick.

  15. Why are we paying attention to what this person is saying? There are a few hundred million other people in the U.S. with their own opinions on the topic. Why pay our attention on this one? 

    This post feels like trolling.

    1. We can’t stop these problems unless we are aware of them.  If we leave these corporatist idiots to their own devices, we’ll end up with pot smoker concentration camps around the country.

      Looking the other way is what got us into this horrible mess our country is in right now.  It’s time for the sane people to step up, pay attention and act.

      1. He’s a Kennedy and this latest scheme of his smells like a signal that he might be in a position to lose power. I’m picking up aromas of desperation and greed with a strong hint of hypocrisy in the nose.

        Isn’t this the Kennedy who crashed his car into the barriers at the foot of the Capitol while taking a 3 am drive on Ambien? Despite reports that he’d been drinking at a bar as recently as 4 hours prior to his little smash-up, he got out of that DUI-for-the-hoi-polloi conviction by claiming he was simply confused from mixing Ambien with some other prescription drugs he was concurrently ingesting. 

        Telling the judge I was blitzed on Drugs X, Y, and Z instead of just alcohol never seems to work for me. Maybe it’s what I’m wearing? I kid. I don’t take driving and intoxication lightly and I’ve dropped $60 on a cab to drive me across the Bay Bridge when too impaired to get home. This guy has a history of endangering others by combing driving and intoxication. With his position and connections, I can only imagine what his record would look like if he were one of the unwashed like me.

        He’s got a lot of personal reasons to be pointing fingers at one drug population he can’t count himself a member of. Addiction’s a bitch. He would have my sympathy if he weren’t a greedy hypocrite whose venal pandering to BigPharma will damage others in the interest of saving his own political skin and enriching his bank accounts. 

  16. A disappointment hearing this come from a member of the Kennedy family, with more commonly, support for civil liberties. Certainly doesn’t sound as “swift” as most of them .. Maybe he’s been bought off by Big Pharma or some other interests. Or maybe he just doesn’t know any other way to establish his identity .. I used to think he was so promising. Good-bye Patrick.

  17. deny medical marijuana to cancer and AIDS patients in favor of something that pharmaceutical corporations can profit from.

    Patrick Kennedy gives steaming piles of shit a bad name. Looks like all the oxycontin rotted his pea brain.  What a human disgrace he is.

  18. Patrick Kennedy is a life long drunk and heavy narcotics abuser.
    He once got so loaded on oxycontin that he ran into a security checkpoint with his car in Washington DC.
    Forget his own family made much of their fortune running illegal hooch in alcohol prohibition. Patrick Kennedy has made some horrible choices in his privileged life (that would land someone like you in jail for a long long time) and has done some incredibly stupid things this 60 year old grass eater has nor never would do. The man isn’t safe, he’s a loose canon and he needs to stay away from me and my family and my life. Lord knows I want nothing to do with his miserable life. He’s not a good man.

  19. * Patrick has acknowledged being treated for cocaine use during his teenage years, and admitted that he abused drugs and alcohol while he was a student at Providence College. 

    * Patrick assaulting a security guard at an airport checkpoint in 2000. He paid an undisclosed civil settlement to the alleged victim almost two years later. 

     * Also in 2000, Atlantic Navigation Company of Mystic, Connecticut, claimed that a boat they rented to Patrick Kennedy was found abandoned off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with US$28,000 worth of damage.

    * In 2003, Kennedy was criticized for saying “I have never worked a f***ing day in my life”

    * On May 4, 2006, Patrick crashed his automobile into a barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. A Capitol Police official said the congressman had appeared intoxicated, but Kennedy claimed that he was merely disoriented from prescription medications Ambien and Phenergan. Anonymous sources are alleged to have seen Kennedy drinking at the nearby Hawk & Dove bar prior to the accident.

    * On May 5, 2006, Kennedy admitted that he had an addiction to prescription medication and announced he would be re-admitting himself to a drug-rehabilitation facility at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he has sought treatment for prior addictions. He has stated that he has no recollection of the car crash. 

    * On Friday, June 12, 2009, Kennedy again announced that he “has checked into a medical facility for treatment”.  

  20. We should listen to Kennedy.  Afterall, if cocaine wasn’t legal he wouldn’t have been able to get it and become addicted to it. No one smokes marijuana today.  It’s illegal.  You can’t buy it. If we legalize it, everybody will smoke it. No one will think about what they’re doing because none of us are capable of thinking for ourselves or making our own decisions. If something is legal, that means the government wants us to do it. It’s good for us. If it’s illegal, we trust our all knowing government’s wisdom on that and none of us ever go against the government’s wishes even if our actions will hurt no one. 

  21. The whole principle is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.

    – Robert A. Heinlein

  22. Show Kennedy what you think by shutting down liquor stores and replacing them with marijuana dispensaries.

    Any liquor store that stops selling alcohol gets an automatic license to sell marijuana.

  23. Looking at the comments here, it is obvious why Kennedy’s SAM Facebook page censors negative comments. I got banned after less than one minute.

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